Oakland Zoo is thrilled to be celebrating National Bison Day this Saturday, November 1st.
The first National Bison Day was celebrated in 2012 as part of a campaign to classify the American Bison as the National Mammal of the United States. The Oakland Zoo would love to help spread the word about this campaign and this wonderful animal.
National Bison Day is the perfect time to spread the word about the campaign to designate the bison as our National Mammal. Here’s what you can do:
Take a photo of yourself with a real or fake beard. This Saturday, post it to social media and be sure to tag it with #BeardsforBison to get it trending!
Visit Oakland Zoo this Saturday, stop by our Action for Wildlife tables in Flamingo Plaza to learn more about bison and this national campaign and to enter a drawing for an exciting behind-the-scenes Bison Feeding. We will also have a Beards for Bison station for you to do a selfie.
Here Are Some Unusual Bison Facts for Your Enjoyment and Education:
The American Bison is the largest land mammal in the country.
During the “megafauna extinctions” at the end of the last ice age when woolly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and dire wolves went extinct, the Bison genus managed to survive.
Their strongest sense is not their vision or hearing, but their sense of smell.
They have horns that are permanent rather than antlers that are seasonal.
Bison wallow in dust for relief from flies and other insects.
Bison gestation is 9 months and they usually give birth in April or May.
There are many theories as to why bison have a hump. One is that it gives them more leverage to plow through the snow in winter.
The bison has been on the official seal of the Department of the Interior since 1912 and is on state flags for Wyoming and Kansas.
In the mid-1800’s the bison population plummeted from over 40 million to just a few hundred individuals in about 60 years. The demand for bison meat and robes in combination with the ease of hunting, transporting, and manufacturing almost resulted in the extinction of the bison. It was the work of a handful of ranchers who protected and preserved enough individuals in privately owned herds until the federal government could establish permanent public herds. Today, there are 10 major public bison herds, and national population of over a 100,000.
Oakland Zoo’s bison herd is composed of 4 beautiful cows (female bison), Ann, Twin, Winky, and Nickel. Our oldest girl is 27 years old, and our youngest girl is 21. They enjoy lounging around in their spacious exhibit which also happens to be the highest exhibit at the zoo. They spend their days grazing on the grasses and weeds in addition to the hay, fruits, veggies, and grain that their keepers provide them on a daily basis. Right now, they are in the process of growing in their winter coats in preparation for the cold season ahead. The best way to see them is to catch a lift on the Zoo’s Skyride (open weekends) where you can also get an overhead view of our tigers, giraffe, lions, camels, elephants, and elk.